Last month, Kay Cairns wrote of her plans to go Brussels and tweet about her three-day trip. But not just any visit, Kay had a strict budget of €65. This included flights, accommodation, transport, food, beer and attractions. How did it go? Find out ...
If you read the paper last week you’d know Kay went to Brussels with her friend Erin for a three-day visit. But not just any three day visit, Kay had a strict budget of €65. This included flights, accommodation, transport, food, beer and attractions. Did she do it? Find out.
Once landed, at 1:30pm Belgian time, we grabbed our bags and headed to the bus, €3, which took us to the North Brussels train station and then the €2.50 train to Bruxelles Central.
There, we got a text from Mada, our host. We had organized to stay on her couch through couchsurfing.com. She’d received lots of lovely reviews and had hosted tons of regular guests. She was kind enough to pick us up and take us on the two-minute walk back to her house.
Once there, we were greeted by Dovy, Mada’s boyfriend, who sat us down and made us tea. I whipped out my notebook as they told us all about Brussels, what to see, where to go, how to eat and how to do it all as cheaply as possible. Couch surfing with locals was a great idea.
Dovy recommended we pick up the USE-IT map, which is free and gives tons of local tips. The USE-IT shop is right beside the central train station and also has an events board inside that gets updated every day by locals and travellers with gigs, concerts and exhibitions.
Mada pulled out her computer and showed us lots of money saving travel sites. Skyscanner and Momondo for finding cheap flights, Bla Bla car and Megabus for cheap road travel, and Share Your Meal and Resto Last Minute for great food deals.
The talk of food was getting us hungry so we went out to buy frites, the Belgian classic, at €3.
Fed and watered, we took a stroll through the high class Galeries Royales for chocolate sampling, and dodged our way through the restaurant strip, Rue des Bouchers, which we lovingly dubbed Harassment Lane.
Later that night we stumbled upon the Grand Place, a stunning square, home to the Hôtel de Ville, or town hall to you and me.
And not to forget the chocolate fountain.
Day TwoAfter a great night’s sleep and some yummy free Starbuck’s coffee from our hosts, we ventured out to get ourselves a map.
We grabbed some pastries (79c each) from a local super market and headed to the Cathedral, St. Michael’s and St. Goedede’s, pretty spectacular.
Then to the free tour of Brussels, run by Charlie with New Europe Tours. The tours run at 11am and 2pm daily from the Grand Place.
Charlie was fantastic, with such an animated character. We heard the hilarious stories of the asymmetric town hall, the Belgian Beer HQ, the Mannekin Pis, Tintin, the Old Stock Exchange, the Royal Theatre and so many more.
As was customary, we stopped for a lunch break at Scott’s for the beer of the month, the non-profit, monk made Triple Karmeliet, at €3 a bottle and a yummy goats cheese and bacon sandwich which we shared at €2 each.
And then to the impressive Notre Dame du Sablon, and €1 waffles at Mannekin Pis. Mada recommended we get them plain with a sprinkling of sugar, so we complied and oh damn were they tasty.
Weary and sore legged; we arrived home to Dovy who had made us some tasty dal and coffee.
But we didn’t stay for long – we’re troopers – and headed out to find the gay district. With map in hand, Erin guided us to Place Fontainas, glittering with rainbow flags and banging with old classics.
Looking for something trashier, Erin and I headed to Delirium Village, as recommended by Charlie the tour guide. Perched amongst rowdy students, we ordered the sweetest beer on offer, florescent green Cactus beer and soaked in the atmosphere, recanting travels past.
After a doddle home we were back to the apartment and into bed.
Day ThreeOur plan du jour – head to the Marché Bio, visit the Palace of Justice, and finish with the EU parliament.
The Marché Bio was a great choice, chock-full of top quality organic produce with nuts, pasta, fresh baked bread, vibrant fruit and veg and… Free coffee. Could it get any better?
Yes, yes it could. Behind the cheese counter was the most beautiful cheesemonger, who happily recommended us some Belgium goats’ cheese to slice up and put in our floury fluffy baguette. The massive sandwich cost us about €3 each, and it was delicious!
Next, to the flea market!
Then to the intimidatingly massive Palace of Justice for some amazing views and rather original graffiti.
And finally the European Parliament, with window-shopping en route.
Unfortunately we made it a bit too late for the EU parliament, which does its last tour at the early time of 3pm (one to take note of.) So we took a quick wander around the free Parlamentarium exhibit and then back off home to pack and grab our 8:15pm flight.
Photos were taken and goodbyes were said as we thanked our generous hosts for their kind hospitality, before marching off to the station, luggage in tow to the airport.
The flight out was just as cheap as the flight into Brussels, at €19.99 each. Amazing.
Mission accomplished. A trip to Brussels on €65. Flights, accommodation, food, land transport and attractions. €65. We’re going to have to do this more often.
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